Lead us not into temptation

459047615The realisation that Christmas – the season of little black dresses and huge plates of food – is galloping towards us has made me even more conscious that I’m only 3lb into my goal of losing 13kg by Christmas. Yes I know it would be helpful to be dealing in the same currency, weight wise, but it’s part psychological – losing 3lb sounds quite a lot and 13kg sounds less daunting than its equivalent in stones. Besides, the conversion button on my scales is stuck on pounds.

The thing is, armed as I am with an awful lot of motivation and support – apart from gym membership, a personal fitness programme and eating plan drawn up by the lovely diet coach Lee Janogly, not to mention a full-length mirror, I am still struggling to whittle myself down to a respectable size for my Christmas stockings. So I have every sympathy for people who really are fighting the flab on a colossal scale, especially those who end up in hospital suffering the strokes, heart attacks and diabetes-related problems that piling on the pounds can lead to.

The answer is so simple – out of sight, out of mind. It works with cobwebs and credit card bills, why isn’t it so easy with crisps and cake? At home and work we are surrounded by temptation and the ready availability of anything and everything that makes adding an extra pound to our hips so much easier and enjoyable than losing one. The one place you’d think it would be slightly trickier to load up with sugar and carbs would be a hospital, especially if you’ve been trolleyed in with one hand clutching your heart and the other a quarter pounder and cheese.

Not so – it’s a long time since I’ve been inside a hospital bed as it’s ten years since we brought Katy back on the 214 bus, but I do remember the tell-tale whiff of burgers, fried chicken and chips that relatives had thoughtfully brought in for the new mums opposite to save them from the alleged horrors of hospital food. That hospital doesn’t sell burgers on site, it only has a Costa Coffee shop to compete with the inhouse meals, but plenty do. Check here to find out whether you can continue your pre-heart attack diet from the comfort of the cardiac unit.

One doctor who is fighting fat on all fronts is cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, who described the practice of hospitals allowing fast food outlets to set up shop within hospital walls as “obscene”.

According to the Herald Scotland, Dr Malhotra, who works at London’s Royal Free Hospital, told delegates at the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Edinburgh last year, that 60% of UK adults were overweight and obese and one in every three children was overweight or obese by the time they left primary school.

“It is appalling to observe patients – some of whom are not fully mobile – gorging on crisps, confectionery and sugary drinks: the very food items that may have contributed to their admissions in the first place,” he said.

“It is obscene that many hospitals continue to have high street fast food franchises on site as well as corridors littered with vending machines selling junk food.”

This morning he and fellow campaigning doctors put their names to an editorial in the Postgraduate Medical Journal to again appeal to hospitals to ditch burger bars so that he and his colleagues have a fighting chance of sending people home healthier than they came in. They are publicising research which concludes that switching to a “Mediterranean diet” – one rich in fresh fruit and veg and olive oil – not only helps you lose weight and prevent heart attacks and strokes but for those who have suffered a heart attack, the change in diet can be three times more effective at reducing your risk of death from another one than taking statins to reduce your cholesterol. And it is a healthier and more effective way of losing weight than trying to stick to a low-fat diet or crash dieting. Who knew? Well, all of us, but every little helps, as they say in Tuscany.

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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